Simple Treasures

etsy.com
We lived at the top of a small hill in our second house, the first house I can remember without benefit of photographs.   Our drive was concrete—perfect for hopscotch and biking and jumping rope—and sloped down over a ditch that occasionally filled with rainwater and snowmelt.  A galvanized steel pipe ran beneath the drive and drained into that ditch.  And when it wasn’t too wet, that pipe was the perfect place to hide treasures.  My sisters and I could lie on our sides and stretch an arm about a foot in and our treasures—generally the few Matchbox cars we owned—would be safe.  Eventually we moved, leaving behind forgotten treasures.  I’ve often wondered what I would find there, were I to go back. 
Growing up, I remember a bank that belonged to my mother.  It was an iron treasure chest—brown—with an image of a pirate on one side and a skull and cross bones on the other and a slot in the lid for coins.  The chest was hinged and I loved to fold back the curved lid to run my fingers through the pennies contained within, pretending that it was real treasure; real gold.

My mother’s button box was also full of interesting treasures—long wooden buttons; metal buttons; buttons that resembled diamonds and pearls that we would hold up to our ears and the backs of our fingers.  There were buttons still on their cards; buttons cut from coats; plain buttons that were to be covered in fabric.  My sisters and I played for hours with these buttons: sorting by size and by color and stringing them on long lengths of yarn to make clunky necklaces.
* * *
The cicadas showed up this week.  Starting at about the middle of the day, I hear them calling from high up in the trees; a rattling; a drumming that starts quietly but crescendos until the sound is nearly deafening.  Here and there, I’ll notice an empty shell, clinging to a fencepost or a tree, perfect, except for the gash along the back.  And, occasionally, I’ll find a cicada, long and green as a spring blade of grass; silver and white underneath with translucent wings veined in black; weightless wings of lead and glass. 
After dinner tonight, my husband and I went walking.  The sun was setting.  The clouds were rimmed in black.  A woman walked briskly by, vigorously pumping her arms in the air.  We walked over a stream and past a pond and along a small stretch of woods before reaching the train tracks where we turned around and headed in the other direction.  The cicadas called.  A bird sang.  A jet streaked across the sky.  A sudden wind blew in from the north. 
Pine trees along the path wept resin where they’d been trimmed; perfect drops suspended from the branches.  Sitting on the curb, a restaurant chef ate his dinner and stared off into space.  A woman pulled out of an office complex and asked for directions.  Across the street, two women wearing yellow construction vests walked.  But tonight, I missed the man riding his beat up bicycle; a stranger who is always free with a smile and a wave no matter how many times we pass him in a night.  
The sun disappeared.  The clouds were tinged with pink.  To the left, a nearly-full moon rose above the clouds.  A group of geese tried to cross the road but were turned back by an impatient driver who barely swerved and didn’t bother to slow.    
We turned into our development and followed a woman and her daughter—home from college for the summer—as they walked their Bichon Frise.  Outside V and Squints and a neighbor girl were shooting baskets.  The bats came out and the crickets started to sing and darkness fell, a velvet curtain that came down slowly and softly so that we barely noticed it until it completely covered the sky.  And we headed inside to watch a movie. 
The best treasures in life are simple.  A game of Scrabble with the kids, my taped college dictionary at the table.  Midsummer cicadas and bats and crickets.  Magic chests full of pennies and old tins of buttons. 
I treasure pink skies and full moons and cold fronts chasing away the heat.  I treasure smiles from a stranger and falling asleep with the windows open.  I treasure listening to the sounds of the wind in the trees.  And I treasure the memory of three little girls sitting at the edge of the driveway, soberly storing things of importance in a damp drainage pipe of galvanized steel.




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Writing in the Margins, Bursting at the Seams: Simple Treasures

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Simple Treasures

etsy.com
We lived at the top of a small hill in our second house, the first house I can remember without benefit of photographs.   Our drive was concrete—perfect for hopscotch and biking and jumping rope—and sloped down over a ditch that occasionally filled with rainwater and snowmelt.  A galvanized steel pipe ran beneath the drive and drained into that ditch.  And when it wasn’t too wet, that pipe was the perfect place to hide treasures.  My sisters and I could lie on our sides and stretch an arm about a foot in and our treasures—generally the few Matchbox cars we owned—would be safe.  Eventually we moved, leaving behind forgotten treasures.  I’ve often wondered what I would find there, were I to go back. 
Growing up, I remember a bank that belonged to my mother.  It was an iron treasure chest—brown—with an image of a pirate on one side and a skull and cross bones on the other and a slot in the lid for coins.  The chest was hinged and I loved to fold back the curved lid to run my fingers through the pennies contained within, pretending that it was real treasure; real gold.

My mother’s button box was also full of interesting treasures—long wooden buttons; metal buttons; buttons that resembled diamonds and pearls that we would hold up to our ears and the backs of our fingers.  There were buttons still on their cards; buttons cut from coats; plain buttons that were to be covered in fabric.  My sisters and I played for hours with these buttons: sorting by size and by color and stringing them on long lengths of yarn to make clunky necklaces.
* * *
The cicadas showed up this week.  Starting at about the middle of the day, I hear them calling from high up in the trees; a rattling; a drumming that starts quietly but crescendos until the sound is nearly deafening.  Here and there, I’ll notice an empty shell, clinging to a fencepost or a tree, perfect, except for the gash along the back.  And, occasionally, I’ll find a cicada, long and green as a spring blade of grass; silver and white underneath with translucent wings veined in black; weightless wings of lead and glass. 
After dinner tonight, my husband and I went walking.  The sun was setting.  The clouds were rimmed in black.  A woman walked briskly by, vigorously pumping her arms in the air.  We walked over a stream and past a pond and along a small stretch of woods before reaching the train tracks where we turned around and headed in the other direction.  The cicadas called.  A bird sang.  A jet streaked across the sky.  A sudden wind blew in from the north. 
Pine trees along the path wept resin where they’d been trimmed; perfect drops suspended from the branches.  Sitting on the curb, a restaurant chef ate his dinner and stared off into space.  A woman pulled out of an office complex and asked for directions.  Across the street, two women wearing yellow construction vests walked.  But tonight, I missed the man riding his beat up bicycle; a stranger who is always free with a smile and a wave no matter how many times we pass him in a night.  
The sun disappeared.  The clouds were tinged with pink.  To the left, a nearly-full moon rose above the clouds.  A group of geese tried to cross the road but were turned back by an impatient driver who barely swerved and didn’t bother to slow.    
We turned into our development and followed a woman and her daughter—home from college for the summer—as they walked their Bichon Frise.  Outside V and Squints and a neighbor girl were shooting baskets.  The bats came out and the crickets started to sing and darkness fell, a velvet curtain that came down slowly and softly so that we barely noticed it until it completely covered the sky.  And we headed inside to watch a movie. 
The best treasures in life are simple.  A game of Scrabble with the kids, my taped college dictionary at the table.  Midsummer cicadas and bats and crickets.  Magic chests full of pennies and old tins of buttons. 
I treasure pink skies and full moons and cold fronts chasing away the heat.  I treasure smiles from a stranger and falling asleep with the windows open.  I treasure listening to the sounds of the wind in the trees.  And I treasure the memory of three little girls sitting at the edge of the driveway, soberly storing things of importance in a damp drainage pipe of galvanized steel.




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18 Comments:

At July 14, 2011 at 6:43 AM , Anonymous Leslie said...

I think mom eventually gave us that chest and we secured our treasures in it before placing them back in the pipe and readjusting the lush, green, mass of creeping Charlie that curtained its entrance. I often wonder if it is still there myself!

 
At July 14, 2011 at 8:23 AM , Anonymous kgwaite said...

I loved that treasure chest and I still remember the dampness of that pipe. I'd love to sneak back and take a look!

 
At July 14, 2011 at 9:10 AM , Anonymous jaum said...

I love it when you write what appears to be a group of unrelated stories, that have such impact at the end when you tie them all together into "Treasures". I get all caught up in the pleasant memories and then WHAM! The tie in.

 
At July 14, 2011 at 1:49 PM , Anonymous Cheryl P. said...

What a lovely post. The fact, you can't write down all your observances in such a way that I can nearly visualize your walk is an art, Kelly.

Wasn't it a nice time of life when button boxes and matchbox cars were our treasures. I used to adore playing in the puddles after a rain. Back then I could smell the rain. (for whatever reason, I can't any more)

As far as going back to the area of the ditch. I wonder if it would be anything like you remember. I have gone back to a couple of places of my childhood and it was all so unrecognizable.

 
At July 14, 2011 at 2:33 PM , Anonymous Coming East said...

Simply gorgeous writing, the depth of detail, the choices of what to include, the weaving it all together to mean more than the sum of its parts. Magical. Loved this!

 
At July 14, 2011 at 3:26 PM , Anonymous Annie said...

What wonderful memories and such vivid writing. I remember Matchbox cars. My brother had more than I, but the few I owned helped me fit into our all boy neighborhood. I remember that we had a treasure chest too, only we lost the key and never figure out what to do with it after that. You write with tremendous awareness and a texture for this time in your life. I really enjoyed it and hope this piece is going into a compilation.

 
At July 14, 2011 at 8:04 PM , Anonymous kgwaite said...

Oh, thank you, Annie! Maybe I'll get up the courage to send this one off.

 
At July 14, 2011 at 8:06 PM , Anonymous kgwaite said...

Thank you. I always appreciate your comments, Susan.

 
At July 14, 2011 at 8:06 PM , Anonymous kgwaite said...

Things were so much simpler with button boxes and Matchbox cars, weren't they? Thanks so much for reading!

 
At July 14, 2011 at 8:07 PM , Anonymous kgwaite said...

Thanks!

 
At July 14, 2011 at 8:28 PM , Anonymous Cheryl P. said...

I just realized my typo. (truly my typing is horrific) I hope you know I meant "the fact you CAN write down your observances in such a way that I can .....Still think you are a beautiful writer and I am still a pitiful typist.

 
At July 15, 2011 at 7:08 AM , Anonymous kgwaite said...

No worries, Cheryl! I understood what you meant. Thanks again for your lovely words.

 
At July 15, 2011 at 11:40 AM , Anonymous Julia Munroe Martin said...

I couldn't agree more -- the best treasures are simple. I was so fortunate to have my college-age daughter home for most of the summer; she's now off to an internship out of state. I so treasure every single precious moment together. I love the image of you and your sisters with the chest. Beautiful!

 
At July 15, 2011 at 2:59 PM , Anonymous Echo said...

Hi, I'm a new follower from the LBS, I love your writing style and can't wait to read some more post.

 
At July 15, 2011 at 4:16 PM , Anonymous kgwaite said...

Thanks so much for reading!

 
At July 15, 2011 at 4:16 PM , Anonymous kgwaite said...

Thanks for reading and following! Looking forward to reading your work as well.

 
At July 16, 2011 at 10:06 AM , Anonymous Terry Stoufer said...

And I can't help but treasure your writing. You slow down those moments and paint such incredible detail with your words. You are becoming one of my favorites to look for that show up on my reader. You always seem to bring me a connection as well...today it was the buttons.

 
At July 16, 2011 at 7:01 PM , Anonymous kgwaite said...

Thanks so much, Terry! I loved that button box.

 

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